The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


John Updike goes toe to toe with the internet:

Now, as I read it, this is a pretty grisly scenario. Performances, personal access to the creator, personalisation, whatever that is, does this not throw us back to the pre-literate societies where only the present live person can make an impact and offer, as it were, value? Have not writers since the onset of the Gutenberg revolution imagined that they already were, in their written and printed texts, giving an access to their creator more pointed, more shapely, more loaded with aesthetic and informational value than in unmediated, unpolished personal conversation?

Authors, if I understand present trends, will soon be like surrogate birth mothers, rented wombs in which a seed implanted by high-powered consultants is allowed to ripen and after nine months be dropped into the market place. In imagining a huge, virtually infinite word stream accessed by search engines and populated by teeming promiscuous word snippets of credited authorship, are we not depriving the written word of its old-fashioned function of, through such inventions as the written alphabet and the printing press, communication from one person to another? Of, in short, accountability and intimacy?